MacBook Air RAM - URGENT

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Emc2Fma, Aug 7, 2012.

  1. Emc2Fma macrumors newbie

    Aug 7, 2012
    First post!

    So I have been a windows user my entire life (which isn't much since I'm still only in high school ;) ), but now I'm looking to jump ships. I know I definitely want a MacBook Air since I can use it for my senior year of high school and then the four years of college.

    I was looking around online and I found a great deal for the 2011 MacBook Air 11'' 2gb RAM / 64 GB SSD. I know that I want the 11'' for it's beauty/portability (plus, I'm planning to get a ~20 inch external screen to install in my dorm, and I can take the laptop to classes). I'm not too concerned about the SSD either since I can always use an external hard drive.

    The only part I'm worried about is the RAM. I'm going to be using this laptop mainly for web browsing + YouTube, writing papers + notes, downloading movies/music, email, and that's pretty much it. Would the 2GB of RAM be sufficient for this?

    Since I'm going to be a neuroscience major, I really don't think I'll have any intensive video-photo editing or coding. I might play the occasional game, but I doubt that as well.

    I'm only worried because I'm going to be using this MacBook for the next 5 years. Many people have told me that I should only get the 2GB RAM if I'm planning to replace in 2-3 years, but I don't think my activities will use that much. I found the model mentioned above at $600, so it's a FANTASTIC deal. I want to grab it up before anyone else, so urgent replies are helpful. Upgrading to 4 GB RAM is expensive and I would like to avoid it if I could.

    Any thoughts?

    P.S. Thank you for reading this long post!
  2. uniforms macrumors regular

    Oct 27, 2008
    South Orange NJ
    I think you would notice a difference between the 2gig of ram and the 4. I had both. The 2 would actually do you fine, but it will be somewhat slower. If you can live with that it's a good deal. It will also power the external monitor just fine. But if you really want to have long term use, I would get the 4gig of ram.
  3. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    2GB of RAM is the minimum for most OSes these days (though the SSD helps), so I doubt you'll get 5 years out of it. That said, it might last 2-3 years for basic tasks so at $600 it might be worth it for now, with the view of just replacing it once it is no longer adequate (the 2011 2GB version goes for $759 at the Apple Refurb store). Does neuroscience make much use of personal technology in the classroom (e.g. any kind of simulation) that might require graphics? If so, then you might be better off with a more powerful system.

    It can certainly handle web browsing, writing papers, etc. Just don't have lots of tasks out there at once.
  4. seared.ahi macrumors regular


    Aug 5, 2012
    Why neuroscience? My brothers' friends also say they plan to major in neuroscience, but not because they have interest in the field, but because they think it sounds smart. The curriculum is kind of bogus at the undergraduate level anyways. Like most specialities, the field doesn't get interesting until you are at the doctorate level. I recommend regular biology or physics, based on your user name.

    Oh yeah, 2GB is not enough nowadays. Basic usage (Mail, Safari, iMessage, iTunes simultaneously) will put you at about 2-2.5GB so once start to pile on more stuff, everything will get really slow. Are you buying this computer yourself or are your parents helping you?
  5. Emc2Fma thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 7, 2012
    I'm aiming to be a neurosurgeon in the future (hence the cognitive sci major), but I also forgot to mention that I'm going to be minoring in physics.

    Gahh I didn't want to hear that...the 2 GB I can get for about $615...I think the 4 GB costs around $820. Does anyone know any better deals?

    My parents will be buying this for me (which I'm really thankful for!).
  6. Scylax, Aug 7, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2012

    Scylax macrumors regular

    Jun 14, 2009
    I think that even with the usage you've stated, you'll find 2GB less than ideal now, and certainly won't get five years use out of it. I expect future OS upgrades will need more than that as a minimum, and if Apple continues with the yearly OS upgrades I think you'd be lucky to get the next two. You may not actually need to upgrade the OS, but as software moves on etc. it could pose a problem. And 64GB might be more limiting than you think too. If the deal is really good on the basis of a year or two of use, fine, but I think you'll struggle to make it last longer. Technology moves on so fast these days!

    ETA: I use my mac for similar usage, but am used to having a lot of things open and I find 4GB is nowhere near enough. I could never cope on only 2! I'm afraid I don't know of any good places to get deals, the Apple refurb store is brilliant, but not the cheapest (hardly surprising really, especially considering the support and protection it nets you).
  7. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    Nice! My advice would be to make up the difference between the $615 and the better system. If you can make up the $400 or so, this year's base is nice. It has a faster SSD, a better GPU, and better battery life, as well as USB 3.0 ports (and 4GB standard).

    If last year is any indication, you might start seeing refurbished 2012s coming up for sale in late September. The base model will go for $850 refurbished. It might be worth it, even if you have to keep a decrepit old PC running for the first month or so at college.
  8. byziphone4 macrumors member

    Jul 30, 2011
    I have the 2010 base version of this machine and it works great! I read what everyone else is saying and though I agree that 2GB of ram will not be sufficient in a couple of years to update, the machine still should perform the same way it performs out of the box...which is still fast! Of course updating will be limited some day...but for what you want it for...and what I use it for...this machine will last more than 5 years.
  9. quactaur macrumors newbie

    Dec 28, 2007
    2gb will absolutely not last 5 years. It'll be a hindrance when the next version of the OS comes out next year.

    Today, 2gb is adequate. You'll have performance slowdowns if you run a lot of apps, but besides that it gets the job done.

    If you're realistically looking for a DTP + college entertainment machine that will last you 5 years, 4gb is a bare minimum and 8gb is the more secure option. If you're commodity buying the Air (i.e. to sell it in 2-3 years and upgrade at a slight cost) then 4 is fine. If you're planning on holding onto it for a while you should consider 8.

    In all honesty, if you're only going in to senior year (at which point you don't need an air) it would be better to wait until you're actually going to college. At that point you may well have a retina option available, and more importantly you will qualify for an apple student discount. Combine that with an opportunistic visit to a state with no sales tax and you'll get a future proof machine for just a little more than your current bargain.
  10. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010

    I totally read over the fact that you are just starting your senior year of high school. I agree that waiting a year may be to your advantage as a lot is going to change with Haswell. Starting college is a good time for that. Maybe with a summer job or a part-time job this year (good for lots of reasons if you can get one in this economy) you might even be able to save enough to get some upgrades. I did just that the summer before I started college and was able to get a screaming fast 90MHz Pentium that lasted me for over 5 years. :D
  11. mosser macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2012
    i think what you want out of the machine you will be fine. 64gb when you already made it clear you compensate with a external hdd.

    i have 8gb im my current pro 15" and i have about 4gb free when combining free with passive.

    however 2gb is the trubleing part. im studying software engineering i never used above 4gb for my current tasks. except when i use parallels for c# programming i hit about 5gb. win 7 runs fine because of the SSD i have. with 1gb ram however this is with alot of prorams open

    one interesting thing is is the air's ram usage smaller because less drivers have to be loaded and less screen space. then 13" air or 15" mbp. i dont know but might worth to find out.

    if you want to use it now and for collage one thing i think you should find out is, will all of your tasks, run in OS X. Or do you need bootcamp / parallels / vmware? if you need a special program or something in windows you will either need bootcamp where 2gb is probally fine (but need to dual boot) or if you like to stay in os x either parallels or vmware where 2gb will be way to little.

    i know both os x and bootcamp / parallels / vmware will fit in to 64 gb since im think of a 11" air with 64gb myself for this.

    i was you i would go for 4gb ram if possible. maybe offer clean for a few months to your parents :D

    good luck
  12. wolfpuppies3 macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2012
    Virginia, USA
    2GB is minimally adequate today, really minimally

    think carefully about investing in something so soon to be obsolete? Lion alone needs 2 GB of memory. My 2011 11" MBA has 4 GB and it is totally blown away by my 2012 13" MBA with 8 GB which is more than twice as fast.
  13. Omurices macrumors newbie


    Jun 28, 2011
    Vancouver, BC
    I'm impressed with you're asking for others' opinion before going with your heartbeat on the fantastic device.

    My answer to you is, do not buy it. 2GB of ram is soldered on to the device and you may not be happy with unable to multi-task as well as 4GB of ram device. It would sound like a monster truck with 12" tires if I put it in different way to explain it. It works, but won't get you to truly use the device thoroughly in my opinion.

    I suggest to look for the 4GB of ram device or higher as it will benefit you in long run.

    And remember that this is you and your parents' investment, on you and yourself.

    Hope you make the right decision. :D
  14. Rocky244 macrumors regular

    Jun 14, 2012
    I'm confused.

    This is a 5 year investment?

    So 600/5 = $ 120 / yr, or 850/5 = $ 170 / yr... Or actually what you should do, which is the base of the new models 1000/5 = $ 200 / yr...

    Considering finance options are available pretty much everywhere, this comes down to a difference of 7 dollars a month.

    How can it be possible that 7 dollars a month is not manageable? If 7 dollars a month is not feasible, please, convince your parents that food is more important than your new computer, because clearly nobody is eating.
  15. ihakim macrumors member

    Jun 11, 2012
    Stanford, CA
    If you're doing neuroscience, chances are you'll be involved in research that requires MAT Lab coding. In other words, you're gonna need a lot of RAM.
  16. Seamaster macrumors 65816


    Feb 24, 2003
    You need to look up the word "URGENT", son.
  17. Dangerous Theory macrumors 68000

    Jul 28, 2011
    He meant it's an investment for the next 5 years. It'll be payed upfront, but he wants it to last.

    I have to absolutely recommend against 2GB. I have basic usages on my 4GB MBP 13 and it still reaches it's limit sometimes. 2GB is very, very limiting and that will become only more obvious over time. Trying to use that laptop in 2 years will probably be hell; 5 totally unfeasible.
  18. HellDiverUK macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2009
    Belfast, UK
    It's funny that someone wishing to become a brain surgeon can't just Google stuff like this. Heck, anyone with a titter of wit knows 2GB is going to be crap now - AND he's expecting it to last 5 years. :eek:

    Next year most phones will have 2GB of RAM...
  19. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    It's a little difficult for a 17 year old to get financing.
  20. Rocky244 macrumors regular

    Jun 14, 2012
    I wasn't confused about payments options, I was confused about the dilemma.

    I mentioned financing. Credit cards allow for monthly payments even when upfront payment is necessary. So do financing options in places such as Best Buy. Even the Apple Store does financing.

    Also, my money is on Emc2Fma being a girl. :p


    Not when the 17 year old has already stated that the parents would be footing the bill.


    Also, Apple online store does student financing options as well, specifically designed for younger students.

    So no, not that difficult.

    I got my first credit card when I was 16.
  21. retinarob macrumors regular

    Jul 26, 2012
    I would do just about anything you can for a computer with more than 2GB of RAM. NO WAY will that last you, as a 17 year old, the next 5 years. You'll be on it for 30 minutes before you start getting mass page outs. Go for, at the very least, 4GB.
  22. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    Dodd-Frank has changed that. I think everyone under 21 needs a co-signer now (if not legally, then effectively through other requirements). I got my first card at 18. Interestingly, credit cards turned out to be some of the "safest" loans during the financial crisis. It was the "safe" mortgage loans that got banks in trouble.
  23. wolfpuppies3 macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2012
    Virginia, USA
    Credit cards

    I shredded my last credit card ten years ago.

    Not sure what that has to do with memory, though.
  24. Rocky244 macrumors regular

    Jun 14, 2012
    Well you might, if you took a look at the thread taking place above.

    Congrats on your shredding session. Some of my friends have no self control either.


    Yup, the type of people who think credit cards are evil are usually the ones not prudent enough to be financially responsible in the first place.

    Blame the credit card companies all you want, but all you need is a little money management (common) sense.

    Edit: You're probably right about the age restrictions though... But, assuming the parents are still buying, they can probably have access to that credit with no problems.

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